Meet Sally J. Smith. Professional editor and USA Today bestselling author of the Mystic Isles Mysteries and a host of other internationally-lauded novels, Sally J. Smith, has earned fans and rave reviews across the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the United States—all because of an epiphany she had in elementary school. That awakening and the Arizona native’s natural sense of adventure led to her dream career, with a few side trips along the way.
“At the age of ten, I felt the need to write come hurtling at me like a meteor out of deep space when Mrs. Peters, my fifth-grade teacher, assigned a report on the Jurassic period,” she said. “Goodness-gracious, I mean, amazing dinosaurs, screeching predatory birds, sea monsters, hot and soggy tropics, and lush forests of ferns and conifers. What right-brained girl wouldn’t take that assignment and go crazy with it? I turned the report into a time-travel story and read it in front of the class. It received an enthusiastic response—laughter, cheers, and applause—and that was it! I was hooked.”
After graduation, Sally’s professional pursuits moved from working as an insurance claims adjuster, to being a paralegal, and owning and operating a travel agency, but she never forgot her fantasy career. Then one day she took the plunge into the wonderful world of writing fiction. The results speak for themselves. Her decades as a successful author included a foray in writing romance novels followed by a series of screenplays, some of which were optioned by Hollywood. Her professional path also led to several years as an editor for Gemma Halliday Publishing, a boutique publishing house recognized for boosting their authors to bestsellers lists.
A prolific writer of short stories, novels and articles, Sally’s greatest passion is writing mysteries and detective novels. In 2014, she joined forces with Jean Steffens and the two collaborated on numerous novels, launching five separate series: the Mystic Isle Mysteries, the Aloha Lagoon Gabby
LeClair Mysteries, the Danger Cove Pet Sitter Mysteries, the Jordan Welsh Mysteries, and the Digby Sloan Mysteries—along the way achieving international acclaim, bestselling status and a devoted following that spans both hemispheres.
Sally’s personal life is as active as her professional endeavors, filled with her cherished family, friends and puppies, and she sprinkles in a few other things that make her smile. “Mexican food which I could eat every day, books, Disney, cooking, Netflix binging, with a glass of wine or a margarita on standby… just in case, and doggies—all breeds—I could easily be one of those crazy ladies with forty or fifty of them roaming around.”
The busy author is also a much-sought-after writing coach, but she’s been known to enjoy a little R & R, such as window shopping, music, and movies. “Good grief, I miss those delicious hours sitting in the dark, a bag of popcorn on my lap and 30-foot-tall magic unfolding before my very eyes!” she said. “Music—and sometimes pizza—feeds my soul, no matter if it’s happy music, sad, rockin’, flowin’, majestic, or gospel. I’m also a collector of people, all people, and often have the best time chilling in some amazing locale just watching the world and the peeps go by.”
Sally draws on her extensive professional experience as a freelance editor. Each year she works with several authors of mysteries, suspense thrillers, historical fiction, paranormal and supernatural stories. That includes development and content editing, as well as proofreading. She follows a simple philosophy, “to offer thoughtful direction that maintains the voice and intent of the author.”
Making no secret of how grateful she is to the mentors who generously helped her fulfill her dreams to be a published author, Sally strives to give back in similar ways to her own clients. She offers a special mentorship opportunity to one client, each year.
Her newest writing project is Disco Dancing with the Dead, scheduled to debut in the fall of 2021. The paranormal mystery features a protagonist who’s been “…haunted by a ghost who wore bellbottoms and sang disco tunes offkey. What would you do to get him out of your bedroom?”
Next on her agenda? In keeping with Sally’s adventurous spirit, the book she will launch after Disco Dancing with the Dead is far outside her normal comfort zone—an urban fantasy mystery that is planned for release in 2022.
Sally’s sums up her enthusiasm and zest for life in two sentences. “Having traveled the planet, I’ve seen many, many awesome things, as well as many, many things that aren’t so awesome. If I had to describe my life in one word, it would be blessed.”